The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) on Monday resumed passenger service amid enhanced COVID-19 prevention measures.
The Africa Star Railway Operation Company (Afristar), which operates the SGR, said the safety of passengers and crew will be paramount during daily operations.
“The current maximum seat occupancy is 50 percent as per government directives,” said Afristar in a statement issued in Nairobi. “All customer-facing employees shall wear masks and gloves.”
“It is noteworthy that all passenger services staff serving customers have tested negative for COVID-19,” the statement said.
The resumption of passenger services follows a decision by President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 6 to lift a travel ban imposed three months ago to and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera counties due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Launched on May 31, 2017, the SGR passenger service, also known as “Madaraka Express,” had transported over 4.3 million passengers by April 6, reaffirming its popularity among business and leisure travelers.
SGR freight services continued despite the pandemic, and by July 10, the SGR had ferried 9.3 million tons of cargo since its launch, Afristar said.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Afristar has provided seamless, safe and efficient SGR freight service over 24 hours daily while ensuring zero infections amongst the company personnel,” the operator said.
Afristar said it has deployed 10 coaches, including eight economic and two first-class ones, to ferry passengers between Nairobi and Mombasa; one coach had been set aside to cater for suspected COVID-19 cases.
It said regular inspection and maintenance of locomotive engines, rolling stock, the track and railway equipment was carried out when commuter services were suspended.
“The locomotive maintenance team has been conducting inspection and maintenance on the five passenger locomotives since the suspension of passenger services to ensure they are in good working condition and are ready to provide safe and efficient transport when passenger service resumes,” Afristar said. (Xinhua)